From an imposing chest of drawers and tall clock by cabinetmaker John Janvier and clockmaker Duncan Beard to a distinctive Bible box, intricate samplers, fabulous silver service, ceramics, and needlework, the furnishings of the Historic Houses of Odessa bear witness to the fascinating history of Cantwell’s Bridge—the original name for the small Delaware river community that flourished as a marketing hub from the mid-18th through early 19th centuries. William Corbit and David Wilson, patriarchs of two of the town’s most prosperous families, built magnificent houses and filled them with the outward trappings of their success. Successive generations added to the material wealth, taking a particular interest in the preservation of not only family history but that of the town itself. The legacy of their endeavors, along with the considerable efforts and generosity of 20th-century preservationist H. Rodney Sharp, can be seen in the six remarkable properties now owned and administered by the Historic Odessa Foundation. This loan exhibit highlights but a sliver of the rich history awaiting visitors to this charming Delaware community.
*Photo at top of page: Corbit-Sharp House, Odessa, DE
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